When the consuls, employing sufficient diligence in exploring the road in pursuit of the Carthaginian, had arrived at Cannae, where they had the enemy in the sight of them, having divided their forces, they fortify two camps with nearly the same interval as before, at Geronium.
The river Aufidus, which flowed by both the camps, afforded approach to the watering parties of each, as opportunity served, though not without contest.
The Romans in the lesser camp, however, which was on the other side the Aufidus, were more freely furnished with water, because the further bank had no guard of the enemy.
Hannibal, entertaining a hope that the consuls would not decline a battle in this tract, which was naturally adapted to a cavalry engagement, in which portion of his forces he was invincible, formed his line, and provoked the enemy by a skirmishing attack with his Numidians.
Upon this the Roman camp began again to be embroiled by a mutiny among the soldiers, and the disagreement of the consuls: since Paulus instanced to Varro the temerity of Sempronius and Flaminius; while Varro pointed to Fabius, as a specious example to timid and inactive generals.
The latter called both gods and men to witness, “that no part of the blame attached to him that Hannibal had now made Italy his own, as it were, by right of possession; that he was held bound by his colleague; that the swords and arms were taken out of the hands of the indignant soldiers who were eager to fight.”
The former declared, “that if any disaster should befall the legions thus exposed and betrayed into an ill-ad- vised and imprudent battle, he should be exempt from any blame, though the sharer of all the consequences. That he must take care that their hands were equally energetic in the battle whose tongues were so forward and impetuous.”